‘It is a trilateral partnership of India, U.S. and Israel’

Jason Isaacson, Director of International Affairs at the American Jewish Committee

Jason Isaacson, Director of International Affairs at the American Jewish Committee

The optics of the U.S.-Israel relations will change for the better under the incoming Donald Trump administration and this will have a positive impact on India’s relations with both, said a senior functionary of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), an influential advocacy group.

Jason Isaacson, AJC’s Director of International Affairs, who recently returned from Israel, said he expected Indian and Israeli Prime Ministers to exchange visits in 2017. Describing President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Israel last year as India’s “coming out of the closet” on ties with Israel, Mr. Isaacson said: “There is less hesitation in India on embracing Israel. It started before Mr. (Narendra) Modi, and it is a bipartisan position in India, but it is more public under Mr. Modi that Israel is a natural ally of India and there are mutual benefits.”

Talking to The Hindu at the 110-year old organisation’s headquarters in Washington, Mr. Isaacson, who is an advocate of increasing cooperation between Indian and Jewish diasporas across the world, described the ties among India, Israel and the U.S. as a trilateral relationship. “We will work together, to demonstrate the benefits of what is really a trilateral relationship, between India, Israel, and the U.S.,” he said, about AJC’s attempts to coordinate with the Indian Americans. The AJC had pulled its weight in support of the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal.

Political voice

A regular visitor to India, Mr. Isaacson said Indian Americans and Jewish Americans “could do a lot more together”. Asked about the ambition of several Indian-American initiatives that try with limited success to emulate the Jewish model of intervention in American politics, Mr. Isaacson said: “The way you can be effective in this society is — gather people together, make an agenda, raise funds, hire staff. If you are going to have a community that has a political voice, it has to be treated as a business. America is welcoming to that kind of political activity. But you will have to take that job seriously.”

Asked about India’s relations with Iran and how this may impact its ties with Israel and the U.S., Mr. Isaacson said the AJC “would like to see the energy partnership [between India and Iran] diminished over time.”

“In meetings that I have had with Indian officials in Delhi, in New York and in Washington, Iran has come up, and I will not hide from you the concerns that AJC and our community have regarding Iran and its ambitions. We also recognise that Iran is India’s neighbour and an important trading partner and energy supplier... We also hope that India can use its relationship with Iran to influence its behaviour — regarding Israel, their Gulf neighbours and their support for terrorism. Iranians should feel some heat from their trading partner, India.”

Mr. Isaacson said while the incoming Trump administration has given clear signals regarding its Israel policy, several other questions remain open, particularly the way forward on the Syrian civil war.

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Printable version | Jun 30, 2022 1:22:38 am |